After a record year of gun sales that saw many Americans purchasing their first firearm ever there's a good chance that there's a handgun enthusiast on your list. If so, we've got you covered with the most comprehensive collection of gift ideas available, everything from ammunition to safe storage options to holsters and a wide variety of firearms for concealed carry, training, plinking and competition.
In 2016 we saw brand-new handguns from several companies including Springfield, Ruger, Walther and Kimber, but there are also some older models on this list, guns that have stood the test of time and proven popular and reliable over the years. Here's a look at some of the best gifts for the handgun buyer in 2016 — the stuff we'd like to see under our own tree.
Smith & Wesson M&P45 SHIELD
Smith & Wesson's M&P®45 SHIELDâ„¢ is a slim, concealable, lightweight, striker-fired polymer pistol. From its one-inch slim profile to its optimized 18-degree grip angle, the M&P45 SHIELD offers professional-grade features that provide consumers and professionals with reliable performance and simple operation in a concealed carry. 45 AUTO firearm. The M&P45 SHIELD can be carried comfortably and confidently, all day. MSRP $479 | Smith-Wesson.com
Springfield Armory SAINT Series
Like those who are unapologetic about protecting their legacy, the SAINTâ„¢ makes no compromises when it comes to features, engineering, and operator experience. As the ultimate refinement of the AR-15 form, the SAINTâ„¢ combines innovations like the Accu-Tite receiver mating system with the relentless execution of core features.
The SAINT's flat top design is optics ready and includes a flip-up rear aperture sight and fixed A2-style front. The 16-inch Chrome Moly Vanadium barrel features a 1:8 twist rate to handle a wide range of bullet types. The operation of the M16 bolt carrier group is managed by a mid-length gas system paired with a heavy tungsten buffer, resulting in an exceptionally smooth action. A good shot starts with the trigger, so that's why the SAINTâ„¢ features micro-polished and Nickel Boron treated components. While it offers the right pull weight for defensive use, you won't feel it.
Unlike most defensive rifles in its price range, the SAINTâ„¢ includes top notch furniture designed to improve both shooting experience and operator performance. An all new, exclusive Bravo Company PKMT KeyMod handguard packs heat shields and flexible attachment points into a slim and easy to handle form factor. The Bravo Company buttstock is rattle-free and complemented by a Bravo pistol grip designed to improve defensive performance. Built for the free and independent, Springfield Armory®'s SAINTâ„¢ represents the next generation of America's personal defense rifle. Built with relentless dedication to reliability, it'll be ready when you are because you can always trust the SAINTâ„¢. MSRP $899 | Springfield-Armory.com
Stealth Gear Revolution Series
To complement its flagship VentCore® line of products, holster manufacturer StealthGearUSA announces the launch of its new SG-Revolution line of American made custom-built breathable everyday carry (EDC) holsters. Filling a need in the marketplace to provide a lightweight and slim-designed custom quality-built holster that can work hard and take a beating in everyday situations, the company developed the ACX-57 polymer single-layer platform to be resistant to oils, completely waterproof, flexible and non-marking. As with all StealthGearUSA holsters, the SG-Revolution line is ventilated with laser-cut ports, and the shell/platform combination is custom to each firearm. Starting at $54 | StealthGearUSA.com
Kimber Micro 9
The big news from Kimber is a little gun called the Micro 9, which derives most of its design cues from the classic 1911 in a smaller, easier-to-conceal package. The thumb safety and slide and magazine releases as well as the grip angle mimic John Browning's vaunted semiauto design, but the aluminum frame and miniaturized dimensions make this gun light and easy to carry under light clothing. With a 3.15-inch barrel the Micro 9 has an overall length of just over 6 inches and weighs under 16 ounces unloaded. Despite its diminutive size it's still a Kimber, and it's still built to their standards; the sights are steel, not plastic, and they are dovetailed into the slide. As with other Kimber semiautos there are a host of different color and grip combinations. MSRP $654 | Kimberamerica.com
Smith & Wesson Victory
If you're going to dub your new pistol "Victory" then it had better be impressive. Smith & Wesson's rimfire semiauto features a fixed barrel and time-tested blowback design, an accurate and reliable setup. Disassembly requires no more than the removal of a couple screws, and if you want to turn this gun into a competition-worthy pistol you can remove and replace the barrel in minutes (and Volquartsen already has barrels ready to ship). It's available with a satin stainless or Kryptek camo finish, a threaded muzzle, and includes an easy-to-install top rail in addition to the adjustable fiber optic iron sights. Starts at $409 | Smith-Wesson.com
American Eagle Syntech Ammunition
You'll immediately recognize Syntech handgun ammunition because the bullet itself is crimson red. What you won't immediately recognize, however, is just how much engineering went into designing the bullet. Replacing copper jacket with a synthetic one reduces friction and barrel heat by up to 14 percent (which means longer barrel life) and reduces fouling from lead and copper. Of equal importance is the fact that when you shoot steel plates with this ammo fragmenting is less dramatic than with copper jacketed bullets; engineers found that there was a 51% reduction in total recoverable fragment weight 5-15 yards from a steel target as compared with traditional FMJ rounds. It's available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Prices starting at $19.95 per 20 | FederalPremium.com
Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator 9mm
The 1911 Range Officer Operator comes with a national match slide, frame, and stainless barrel and a long aluminum match grade trigger, so you might expect that accuracy is quite good. Other accoutrements include a skeletonized hammer, dovetailed sights (low profile rear and shield fiber optic front), extended beavertail and cocobolo grips. All that metalwork is wrapped in a Parkerized finish that protects it from the elements (primarily the acrid cocktail of oils and sweat to which carry guns are exposed on a daily basis), and the 9mm version comes with a couple of nine-round magazines. Weight is just a shade over 40 ounces, and overall length just over 8.5 inches, so this is a firearm you can carry comfortably that offers plenty of capacity and superb accuracy when you need it most. MSRP $1,029 | Springfield-Armory.com
BLACKHAWK Omnivore Holster
The Omnivore lives up to its name, a holster that swallows up just about any gun on the market (read: you only need one rig for a variety of different pistols). It's designed for handguns with an accessory rail or a Streamlight or Surefire light, and the retention system holds the gun in place by anchoring on the rail or light instead of the firearm itself. There's no chance your gun will get scratched or marred, and best of all, no need to buy a bunch of different holsters for every firearm. In fact, the gregarious Omnivore mates up with no less than 150 different pistol models. Talk about versatility. MSRP $59.95 | Blackhawk.com
Ruger LCP II
Ruger has been a key player in the field of carry guns for years, and even though the old LCP was a great gun that earned a large following the company wanted to refine the original with the addition of an improved single-action trigger that is smooth and crisp, a slightly wider grip that is more comfortable under recoil yet trim enough to be easily concealed, and a lightweight slide that remains open after the last shot. The overall dimensions and weight (5.17-inches long, a slide width of just .75 inches, and a weight of 10.6 ounces) make concealed carry simple, and Ruger ships this .380 ACP with a pocket holster. It will accept six-round magazines for the previous generation LCP (though the last shot hold-open feature doesn't function) but will not accept seven-round magazines for the original LCP. MSRP $349 | Ruger.com
Walther has been making compact, easy-to-conceal firearms for more than eight decades, so the German company knows how to build a carry gun to James Bond's standards. Their newest offering is the Creed, a polymer striker-fired 9mm semiauto that is just a hair over an inch wide and about five-and-a-half inches tall. The gun's metalwork if Tenifer treated, and despite its narrow dimensions this pistol is capable of holding 16 rounds in the mag. The adjustable sights have a low-profile design so they won't snag, and the minimalist controls(slide stop and magazine release) are also contoured so they won't poke your side or, even worse, hang up when you draw. MSRP $399 | WaltherArms.com
Hornady Rapid Safe 2700
The ying and yang of gun storage is that while you need to keep your guns secure and safely out of the hands of others you also need to maintain quick access in the event of an attack. Hornady has figured out one of the best solutions to the give-and-take of gun storage with their 2700 RAPiD Safe. 14-gauge construction helps earn this safe exceed ASTM international safety standards for child and pry resistance, and it meets TSA requirements for handgun safety in checked luggage. There's also a cable so you can secure your firearms and valuables anywhere you go, perfect for those who travel or need a firearms safe in their vehicle as well as the home. The safe's spring-assist lid opens instantly when you swipe a pre-programmed wristband, sticker, or key fob across the sensor, so you can have rapid access to your firearm. There's also a traditional key lock, and power comes from an AC source with battery backup. MSRP $203 | Hornady.com
The R51 had some troubles early on, but Remington engineers fine-tuned the latest models and by all accounts its worth a hard look by anyone looking for a semiauto 9mm carry gun. It utilizes the Pedersen block action design, which helps mitigate recoil and keep the bore axis low (which aids recoil reduction even more). It's rather avant-garde look, with rounded edges and sights, give the R51 an unmistakable profile but those lines also help keep the gun concealed. It has a light, crisp, single-action trigger and a prominent grip safety that is intuitive and comfortably angled. It's capable of handling powerful 9mm +P loads and comes with seven-round magazines. MSRP $448 | Remington.com
Taurus 709 Slim
Taurus trimmed the fat on the little 709 Slim, allowing it to balance between big-gun feel and compact concealability. It measures just six-inches in length and weighs just 19 ounces unloaded, yet it has a capacity of 7+1. The textured grips are comfortable, and sights are effective yet compact enough that they won't hang as you draw the gun. It's bladed trigger features a unique SA/DA design, and the contoured slide won't print even under light clothing. If you're looking for a budget 9mm that works for recreational shooting and defensive purposes the Taurus just might fit the bill, and priced under $400 you won't find many guns that offer more features for less money. Like other Taurus guns, it's backed by a lifetime repair policy, too. MSRP $302 | Taurususa.com
The CPX-1 and CPX-2 have been around awhile, but they still warrant attention. Aside from the addition of a manual safety (the CPX-1 has one, the CPX-2 does not) these guns are the same, designed by engineer Joe Roebuck and built in a factory that's within earshot of the famous Daytona Motor Speedway. These little 9mm semiautos offer 10+1 capacity in an easy-to-conceal package that weighs less than a pound. The Zytel grips are comfortable and keep the gun firmly planted, even if you have rather large hands, and slide operation is smooth and light. Best of all the MSRP is around $300 making the SCCY 9mms guns that offer everything you want and need at a price that just about anyone can afford. MSRP $314 | Sccy.com